Education featured Labour

Liette Doucet: Pre-election spending spree frustrating for teachers and students

Less than two months ago teachers across Nova Scotia were forced to go on strike for the first time in our province’s history due to the actions of the McNeil government.

Liette Doucet addresses a parents rally at the Grand Parade in Halifax in December 2016. Photo Robert Devet

For almost a year and a half teachers fought hard for a fair contract that included steps to improve learning conditions for students, only to be told by the Premier that his cupboards were bare. He then used his majority to first erode the collective rights of teachers with Bill 148, then eliminate them altogether and impose a contract with Bill 75.

With Bill 75 the government took away close to $20 million in salary from teachers included in its last offer, none of which was re-invested back into front-line education. It also eliminated long-held retirement benefits achieved through collective bargaining.

To add insult to injury, the Premier used the $3.4 million in savings from NSTU’s one day strike to purchase class trips and sports jerseys, instead of reducing class sizes or providing additional support for students with special needs.

It’s for these reasons that teachers, students and families are extremely frustrated with the McNeil government’s recent multi-million dollar spending spree. After years of watching our schools deteriorate in the name of fiscal restraint, this new found spending largesse is another betrayal of trust. To teachers it also appears as though the government is funding its pre-election campaign at their expense–and their students’ expense.

While there have been some positive reforms in the past month thanks to the efforts of the teachers and other members on the Council to Improve Classroom Conditions, these changes alone will not fix the issues in our education system that have emerged under the current government. The Premier has not delivered on the promises he made to teachers during the last election. No amount of “March madness” spending announcements can disguise the fact that conditions in our classrooms are in steady decline.

Liette Doucet is the president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.

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  1. Aerial Spraying In the Local Area !!!!!
    Last week I received a letter form JD Irving Limited ( their Silvaculture Department ) . In the letter it stated that they will be spraying Glyphosate aerially . A 1999 study, A Case-Control Study of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Exposure to Pesticides, (American Cancer Society,1999), found that people exposed to glyphosate are 2.7 times more likely to contract non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
    Much of the belief about glyphosate’s environmental safety is based on the expectation that residues will be “immobile in soil,” and therefore the chemical will not contaminate groundwater. EPA acknowledges that the material does have the potential to contaminate surface waters.
    If glyphosate reaches surface water,it is not broken down readily by water or sunlight.
    They also go on to say spraying will be begin August 11 and run through September 30th . I was also told when I called 432-2925 that the following areas will be sprayed – 45 Mile Road .
    New Ireland Road ,Riverside -Albert and other surrounding areas . I was assured that the chemical would not travel – This chemical has been known to travel 25 Km !
    If you want to become active in trying to stop this slap in the face to New Brunswickers then call 1-506-887 -2008 .

    Some Quick Points to Remember:

    * Monsanto, who made Agent Orange and PCB’s, also makes Vision and Vision MAX among other defoliants/herbicides/pesticides
    * Our government did not do its own testing of VISION/VISION MAX, the PMRA gets its safety information from Monsanto
    * Glyphosate and many other pesticides are banned in other countries and even as close as Quebec
    * Denmark banned glyphosate because it was found in well water
    * Spray areas that have blueberries are deemed unedible
    * Pictou County Municipality voted unanimously against the spraying in our county but its request was ignored the Minister of Environment Mark Parent
    * After Halifax, NS got their pesticide bylaw in place, a law was passed that no other municipality was allowed to pass a ban
    * The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities may be looking into reversing this undemocratic law so that areas can once again ban pesticides
    * Pesticides do not stay where they are sprayed, a test was done at 10ft in the air with a 3 mile wind and the spray drifted 21 miles, which is why it is our right NOT to be exposed against our will
    * Pesticides poison more than 6 000 Canadians every year and almost half of them are children younger than six, the David Suzuki Foundation says after reviewing poison control records across the country

    Here are some quick statements from

    * Glyphosate residues in soil have persisted over a year
    * Although not expected for an herbicide, glyphosate exposure damages or reduces the population of many animals, including beneficial insects, fish, birds, and earthworms. In some cases glyphosate is directly toxic; for example, concentrations as low as 10 parts per million can kill fish and 1/20 of typical application rates caused delayed development in earthworms. In other cases, (small mammals and birds, for example) glyphosate reduces populations by damaging the vegetation that provides food and shelter for the animals.

  2. What else is new in Nova Scotia? Liberal or Conservative, spend four years being cheap and abusive to Nova Scotia then just before an election call go on a spending spree to buy votes. What roads are being paved now? NS politicians have no respect for the voters. The sooner MacNeil is gone the better. Not that things will be any better with the Conservatives. Sigh…

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